Learn about Cryoglobulinemia
Cryoglobulinemia is known as a systemic disease characterized by presence in blood of immune complexes called cryoglobulins. To understand Cryoglobulinemia you need to know what is cryoglobulin. It is abnormal protein (immunoglobulin) which precipitate and is irresolvable at low body’s temperature. When temperature decreases it’s again dissolvable. Blood levels of cryoglobulin in healthy person may reach 30 mg/L. It is involved in vascular damage, renal and neurological complications. Disease accompanies mostly chronic inflammation, autoimmune diseases and infectious.
There is certainly a correlation between hepatitis C infection and type II cryoglobulinemia. Symptoms of Cryoglobulinemia occur when concentration of cryoglobulin is above 100 mg/L. The clinical symptoms characteristic for Cryoglobulinemia are blotchy rash, joint pain and persistent fatigue.
Types of cryoglobulinemia
Cryoglobulinemia is classified in three types based on the composition of cryoglobulin present in serum:
- Type I (monoclonal)
- Type II (mixed – monoclonal and polyclonal)
- Type III (polyclonal
Individual types of cryoglobulinemia are associated with certain diseases. Type I is related to myeloma, lymphoma or lymphocytic leukemia. Type II is usually related to Hepatitis B or C. Type III occurs is mostly related to autoimmune disease. Cryoglobulinemia may also occur spontaneously, not related to any disease which is most common in middle-aged woman. Symptoms for underlying Cryoglobulinemia are purpura, joint pain, significant weakness, peripheral neuropathy, skin ulcers, Raynaud’s phenomenon).
Cryoglobulinemia symptoms are different for each type. Patients with type I of Cryoglobulinemia have symptoms such as: Raynaud’s phenomenon, cyanosis, skin ulcers and necrosis of subcutaneous tissue. Patients with type II and III of Cryoglobulinemia: purpura, susceptibility to infection, vessel inflammation, joint pain, glomerulonephritis, neurological symptoms, skin necrosis, liver dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy, nephritis. Other symptoms are: vascular purpura, weakness, nettle-rash, arthritis, cough, dyspnea, pleurisy, stomach ache.
To diagnose Cryoglobulinemia your doctor will perform physical tests like: cryoglobulin test, rheumatoid factor, complete blood count, hepatitis C and B test.
Cryoglobulinemia treatment depends on how severe disease we face. Decisions are dependent on the severity of systemic vasculitis and the severity of liver failure. Cryoglobulinemia accompanying rheumatic diseases do not require any additional treatment beyond the therapy tailored to the underlying disease activity. However, it is advisable to avoid exposure to cold. It is recommended to wear warm gloves and socks in the cold season. It is very difficult to treat patients infected with hepatitis C with associated clinical symptoms associated with Cryoglobulinemia. Priority for these patients is antiviral treatment. Due to the severe clinical symptoms of organs (kidney inflammation, heart failure, skin changes) it is necessary to use glucocorticoid therapy at the same time, and immunosuppressive drugs, which could hinder the elimination of the virus.
If you think that you have one of above symptoms you should contact your doctor immediately to perform tests.
It is important to early diagnose Cryoglobulinemia, because it may cause complications such as internal organs failure.